The story behind Cine Paris begins in the early 20th century, around 1920, when a Greek hairdresser, who had spent many years in Paris, had the idea of opening up a summer cinema and gave it the name of the city he had loved.
Around 1960, when Athens was being reconstructed after years of Occupation and Civil War, the historic cinema was transferred to Plaka’s Kydathinaion Street and the building we know today, a two-storey block of flats, and became a winter cinema. But economic pressures were too great and it closed before the decade was out. The movie theatre was then converted into a popular music taverna called Zygos, where Viki Moscholiou and many other big names used to sing. In 1986 Dimitris Panos, who had been eyeing the place from his kiosk across the street, bought the upper floor and turned the roof terrace into the new Cine Paris. Thirty years later, Dimitris is still there every evening and the Cine Paris terrace has become one of the best known in Athens, since it has the most spectacular view of the Acropolis of any cinema (with stiff competition from Cine Thision).
Because Kydathinaion Street is by now the centre of the tourist hub of Plaka, many foreigners join the locals in buying tickets to enjoy the double thrill of watching a film outdoors with the beautifully illuminated Acropolis above them. In any case, the films chosen by Kyrios Dimitris are always first rate.
At the entrance to Cine Paris, on the ground floor, is a shop with a vast collection of movie posters, which will help you wile away the time waiting for the film to start. You won’t even notice the climb to the second floor where the films are shown because the staircase is lined by excellent photos of historic stars from the world over. And when you get to the terrace, you have another reward – the Acropolis lit up in all its glory practically at arm’s reach. Once there, you can choose between sitting in the stalls with the hoi polloi, the balcony with fewer people or a private box (small balcony) of your own.
The bar is stocked with dozens of well-known whiskeys and a long list of beers. For snacks, there are Greek cheese pies and pizzas as well as hot dogs and nachos. Not to mention the obligatory popcorn, ice creams and ices.
Whoever visits the Cine Paris terrace once is bound to return.